Immune to Cancer: The CRI Blog



AACR 2023 Preview: Advancing the Frontiers of Cancer Science and Medicine

On April 14, the 2023 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR23) kicks off in Orlando, bringing together tens of thousands of healthcare professionals, including researchers, oncologists, bioinformatics specialists, and patient advocates.  

This year’s conference, themed “Advancing the Frontiers of Cancer Science and Medicine”, highlights how much progress has been made. 

Many members of the CRI Network are sharing their research, which is helping us to fulfill the promise of immunotherapy. There are signs that exciting next-generation immunotherapies, such as personalized vaccines, are starting to bear fruit. Thanks in part to their efforts, we are on the verge of the next significant wave of progress. 

A shining example is E. John Wherry, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania. On April 17, he receives the 2023 AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology in recognition of his career contributions to the field. We’re speaking with Dr. Wherry, who was first funded as a CRI fellow in 2000 and now an associate director of the CRI Scientific Advisory Council, prior to his lecture, to hear more about his career and the importance of CRI’s support. Dr. Wherry is also giving a major symposium talk delving into his concept of “immune health” as well as strategies to use immune cells as ‘biosensors’ and the basis for immune profiling of cancer and beyond. 

Complementing new treatments is an ever-improving ability to capture and analyze information about the cancer ecosystem, including the interactions within the tumor microenvironment and the impact of the bacterial microbiome. Insights gained through new technologies offer a wealth of opportunities as far as improving patient care. For example, blood tests, also known as liquid biopsies, can identify genetic abnormalities in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). This can help determine the best course of treatment for individuals, as well as enable monitoring in patients during treatment. 

On April 18, Valsamo Anagnostou, MD, PhD, a CRI Clinical Accelerator Investigator at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, provides an update on a CRI-funded phase 2 trial exploring the potential advantages of ctDNA blood tests during immunotherapy compared to current tissue biopsy and imaging methods. This could drastically improve doctors’ decision making during immunotherapy, allowing them to determine in a more timely manner if a patient is responding to treatment, or whether alternative avenues should be discussed and possibly pursued.

The following are some of the dozens of CRI scientists and physicians whose work is being featured at AACR23: 

These presentations are just a small slice of what’s in store at AACR 2023. Be sure to check back on our blog on April 17 for our interview with Dr. Wherry, and after the conference for our meeting recap. 

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